Applying Ethical Theory


Assessment 1 Instructions: Applying Ethical Theory


Compose a 2-3 page paper in which you respond to a simulated medical ethics dilemma by applying the three normative theories of ethics.


The field of ethics is highly personalized; each individual has his or her own view of actions that are morally and ethically sound. Rather than relying solely on personal experiences and emotions to govern ethical views, however, individuals often use ethical theories as a foundation. Ethical theories are useful in a variety of ways:

  • To help people think through issues that arise in their everyday life.
  • To make decisions, particularly those involving moral and ethical challenges.
  • To justify decisions to others.
  • To recognize types of arguments that other individuals use.


You will learn about three traditions of normative ethics:

  • Virtue ethics.
  • Deontological ethics.
  • Consequentialist ethics.


These three traditions have contributed to our understanding about ethics through the works of key thinkers in history. Understanding these ethical theories will help you support your positions on ethical issues you encounter. In this assessment, you will apply ethical theory to a scenario that will be provided for you.

Demonstration of Proficiency

By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies through the following scoring guide criteria:

  • Competency 1: Explain the nature of ethical issues.
    • Explain the ethical issue in a scenario.
  • Competency 2: Critically examine the contributions of key thinkers from the history of ethics.
    • Apply the three traditional theories of normative ethics to a situation.
  • Competency 3: Engage in ethical debate.
    • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of each of three approaches to ethical theory as they relate to a specific situation.
  • Competency 4: Develop a position on a contemporary ethical issue.
    • Apply ethical theory to justify an ethical position on an issue.
  • Competency 5: Communicate effectively in the context of personal and professional moral discourse.
    • Communicate in a manner that is scholarly, professional, and consistent with expectations for members of professional communities.


You have now studied the three approaches to ethical theory (deontological, consequentialist, and virtue theory) as exemplified in the work of Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and Aristotle. Your assessment is to write an essay applying these three approaches to the following practical case:


You are called to consult in the critical care unit of your local hospital. The hospital admits JoEllen, 53, after she takes an overdose of prescription medications with alcohol. On admission, she says, “Not supposed to be here . . . ” and soon becomes uncommunicative. As her condition deteriorates rapidly, her son arrives with a notarized advance directive in which JoEllen specifically asks not to be placed on life support. What should you recommend to the attending health professionals?


As you write your essay, consider how you would achieve the following:

  • Explain the ethical issue in this scenario.
  • Apply the three traditional theories of normative ethics to this situation.
  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the three theories as they relate to this situation.
  • Apply ethical theory to justify your stance on the right thing to do in this situation.


Your instructor may provide video feedback on your work, as well as complete the official scoring guide for the assessment.


Additional Requirements

  • Written communication:Ensure written communication is free of errors that detract from the overall message.
  • APA formatting:Format resources and citations according to current APA style guidelines.
  • Number of resources:Use your judgment to ensure your topic is thoroughly researched. There is no minimum number of resources required.
  • Length of paper:Submit 2-3 typed, double-spaced pages.
  • Font and font size:Use Arial, 12-point font.